Ingham County enters into a lot of contracts, but not all of them get signed. It seems this has been going on for years.
Ingham County Board of Commission Office Director Becky Bennett brought it to the commissioners’ attention Feb. 12. Public Health Director Linda Vail backed up Bennett and so did Chief Deputy County Clerk Ryan Buck. Contracts are not being signed by the first party in the contract or the clerk’s office, but the money still leaves the county.
Although the Health Department was brought to the meeting to discuss issues specifically in that department, the issue involve many departments, said Bennett.
“Are they actually using these programs?” Bennett asked. “And if so, how are they doing that without a contract?”
According to Vail, the Department of Health processed 129 contracts in 2018, but eight went through without a signature.
“Three contracts I will fall down on my sword for,” Vail said.
But the other five, she said, didn’t get required signatures because of outside parties. The state always want to sign first, as well as the agency — and they are the ones not returning contracts.
Commissioner Mark Grebner, District 8, suggested marking that contracts had not been signed and putting them into a folder marked that way. The funds would still be leaving the county, but at least there would be a record of no signature.
Buck said that would cause many issues down the road and would be a logistical nightmare. He said “we need transparency” to resolve the issue.
Another suggestion at the meeting was to re-train employees on contract issuing and signing. Bennett said she shouldn’t be training every employee in her office.
Controller Tim Dolehanty, Ingham’s chief fiscal and administrative officer, said it is mostly a state issue.
The clerk’s office and the Board of Commissioners office are calling for resolution though, and not just Bennett and Buck.
Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum said she wants the contract discussion to continue and for the system to be fixed.
“I look forward to the commissioners holding the controller and other department head accountable,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for that for six years now.”